Sunday, September 18, 2005

50,000 pitch in to save Manila Bay on World Cleanup Day

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Some 50,000 people gathered on Roxas Boulevard early yesterday and took part in the 20th World Cleanup Day celebration by extracting eight truckloads of garbage from Manila Bay.

Rafael Borromeo, head of the Department of Public Service (DPS) of Manila City Hall, described the joint cleanup effort a success. For this year, the event carried the theme "Our Future, Our Choice: Clean and Save our Coastline."

Borromeo said they removed debris along a portion between the US Embassy and the Manila Yacht Club.

The bulk of the garbage, totaling some 80 cubic meters, was taken near the vicinity of the US Embassy. The cleanup began at around 8 a.m. and lasted until noon.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said yesterday’s garbage collection was smaller compared to their previous hauls.

"In the past, we used to gather some 20 truckloads of trash. This can only mean that there are now fewer people who throw their trash into Manila Bay."

On World Cleanup Day, people from different countries simultaneously go to various cleanup sites and campaign against water pollution.

In the Philippines, the cleanup activity was conducted in Manila, ParaƱaque City and several provinces, including Cavite and Bataan.

"The cleanup of the coastline is a very special occasion, but cleaning it should not be done just once a year. This should be done everyday because if we allow the water to become more polluted, in the end it is the present generation and the next that will suffer," Borromeo said.

Manila City Hall officials and employees led yesterday’s participants that included representatives from different government agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Navy (PN), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Environment Management Bureau-Department of Environment and National Resources (EMB-DENR).

Students from different schools, including City College of Manila (CCM), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), University of Manila (UM) and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), also did their share to help the environment.

Just last month, some 5,000 students from PUP conducted "The World’s Largest Human Rainbow in Action" and after a half day’s work, extracted six truckloads of garbage from the bay.

Atienza appealed to all local government units (LGUs) near the Manila Bay shoreline to work together in the cleanup effort. He also encouraged local leaders, the PCG and the PN to join him in drafting the plan to revive the life of the bay.

He said the PCG should help in policing Manila Bay by stepping up its monitoring effort. It should focus on vessels that dock along Manila Bay because they may be the one of the primary contributors to garbage in the water.

"Some of these international ships might have trash on board and they are unable to dispose them while traveling in Hong Kong or other Southeast Asia countries. They only unload their garbage when they enter Manila Bay," the mayor said, noting that some of the garbage they took from the water had foreign labels.

The country should also impose strict laws against the offenders as a deterrent.

He said that in Hong Kong, those who are caught illegally disposing of a cigarette butt are fined HK$5,000 (P40,000).
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